It started with a bleary-eyed Google search: â€œSell breast milk.â€ Desiree Espinoza had a 2-month-old baby girl but was pumping out enough milk to feed triplets. Ziplock baggies full of the stuff were crammed in her freezer, and unpaid bills crowded her kitchen table. She wasnâ€™t sure there was a market for her overflow or whether selling it was even legal. A few clicks later, she found herself on a website called Only the Breast.
The site looks a lot like craigslist, except instead of selling used cars and like-new Ikea furniture, Only the Breast deals in human breast milk. There are hundreds of posts from new mothers eager to turn their surplus into profits. Many kick off with a chirpy headline (â€œChubby baby milk machine!â€), then follow with a snapshot of their own robust infant and lush descriptions (â€œrich, creamy breast milk!â€ â€œfresh and fatty!â€), making a primal source of nutrition sound like a New York cheesecake. The posts are additionally categorized to appeal to a variety of milk seekers, based on a babyâ€™s age (from 0 to 12 months), say, or special dietary restrictions (dairy- and gluten-free). Thereâ€™s also a sort of â€œanything goesâ€ section for women willing to sell to men. Some ship coolers of frozen milk packed in dry ice. Others deal locally, meeting in cafÃ©s to exchange cash for commodity. The asking price on Only the Breast runs $1 to $2.50 an ounce. (A 6-month-old baby consumes about 30 ounces a day.)
Photo by Austin Tuan.